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We Don’t Need No Education

Conference contribution
Authors Ellen Lust
Published in 11 November University of Gothenburg
Publication year 2015
Published at Department of Political Science
Language en
Subject categories Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)

Abstract

Development specialists recognize that supply-side “good governance” mechanisms (e.g., transparency, public sector management, or accountability institutions) drive the quality of service provision (e.g., Acemoglu and Robinson 2013; Brixi et al. forthcoming), but the demand-side story receives less attention. Conventional wisdom claims that citizens demand high quality service provision across all countries and sectors. As a result, differences in the quality of social service provision are attributed to differences in the supply-side factors. This paper challenges this assumption. It argues that citizen demand for service provision differs across countries and sectors, and that this affects the quality of services provided. It demonstrates the importance of the demand-side of social service provision by analyzing the impact of natural resource rents on the quality of health and education service provision. Rents shape citizens’ demands for health and education services differently: While citizens in rentier and non-rentier states both demand high quality health services, those in rentier economies are less likely to need and demand high quality education. This is because citizens in rentier systems can obtain a high standard of living regardless of the quality of education they attain, but like citizens elsewhere, they remain concerned about their health. The paper demonstrates the demand-side story at two levels. First, it uses a cross-regional analysis of national-level health and education outcomes (using standardized mortality rates and per capita disability-adjusted life years (DALY) and TIMSS 2011 math scores for fourth and eighth grade students, respectively), finding that rents have a statistically significant negative effect on education but no discernible effect on health outcomes. Second, it uses student surveys in eight Middle East and North Africa countries to examine differences citizens’ demand for education. It finds that students in the non-rentier countries report less concern over and engagement with education than students in non-rentier countries. The paper makes several important contributions. First, it turns our attention to the importance of taking citizens’ demand for service delivery more seriously. Second, it suggests that policymakers and practitioners must consider much more carefully both supply and demand side forces that lead to variation across sectors and countries. Third, it extends the literature on rentier states. Much work has been done that examines the impact of oil on democratization and state formation (e.g., Ross 2001; Smith 2004; Herb 2005; Dunning 2008; Haber and Menaldo 2011), and on economic growth (e.g., Rodríguez and Sachs 1999; Sachs and Warner 2001; Neumayer 2004; Alexeev and Conrad 2009); few have examined social service provision (e.g., Gylfasson 2001; Bulte et al. 2005), and those that have done so have not taken the demand-side of social service provision into account. References Acemoglu, Daron and James Robinson (2013). Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty. New York, NY: Crown Publishers. Alexeev, Michael and Robert Conrad, Robert (2009). “The Elusive Curse of Oil,” The Review of Economic and Statistics 91(3): 586-598. Brixi, Hana, Ellen Lust, Michael Woolcock, Jumana Alaref, Samira Halabi, Luciana Hebert, Hannah Linnemann, Manal Quota (forthcoming 2015): Trust, Voice, and Incentives: Learning form Local Successes in Service Delivery in the Middle East and North Africa. Washington, DC: The World Bank. Bulte, Erwin H., Richard Damania, and Robert Deacon (2005). “Resource Intensity, Institutions, and Development,” World Development 33(7): 1029-1044. Dunning, Thad (2008): Crude Democracy. Natural Resource Wealth and Political Regimes. New York: Cambridge University Press. Gylfason, Thorvaldur (2001). “Natural resources, education, and economic development,” European Economic Review 45(4-6): 847-859. Haber, Stephen and Victor Menaldo (2011). “Do Natural Resources Fuel Authoritarianism? A Reappraisal of the Resource Curse,” American Political science Review 105(1): 1-26. Herb, Michael (2005). “No Representation without Taxation? Rents, Development, and Democracy,” Comparative Politics 37(3): 297-316. Neumayer, Eric (2004). “Does the “Resource Curse” hold for Growth in Genuine Income as Well?” World Development 32(10): 1627-1640. Rodríguez, Francisco and Jeffrey Sachs (1999). “Why Do Resource-Abundant Economies Grow More Slowly?” Journal of Economic Growth 4: 277-303. Ross, Michael L. (2001). “Does Oil Hinder Democracy?” World Politics 53(3): 325-361. Sachs, Jeffrey D. and Andrew Warner (2001). “Natural Resources and Economic Development: The curse of natural resources,” European Economic Review 45: 827-838. Smith, Benjamin (2004). “Oil Wealth and Regime Survival in the Developing World, 1960-1999,” American Journal of Political Science 48(2): 232-246.

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